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Upstate and Crouse address concerns over wait times at first community forum

A sign welcoming attendees to the Upstate-Crouse community forum.
Isabel Flores
WAER news
A sign welcoming attendees to the Upstate-Crouse community forum.

Panelists from Upstate Medical University and Crouse Health revealed detailsof their intended merger in North Syracuse on Monday. The public was given a chance to express concerns and ask questions at the initial community forum held by the hospitals.

One of the top concerns at the first community forum was how Upstate acquiring Crouse will affect patient services. Workers and residents alike specifically questioned what this would do to wait times.

Some of those in attendance criticized Upstate for long wait times, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, they worry Crouse Hospital will conform to Upstate’s patient delays once they’re merged.

However, hospital officials say the merger will instead prevent these issues from happening as the hospitals share resources. President of Upstate University hospital Dr. Mantosh Dewan said that part of the reason wait times are so high is because of the staff shortage and combining staffs will help.

“We will protect all services and all beds and all employees. One is, it’s the right thing to do, but more importantly, selfishly, we need everybody. We have over 1,000 open positions at Upstate. We would love to have more people work there.”

Both Upstate and Crouse officials said the joining of the two hospitals is complimentary and enhances services.

Assemblymember Al Stirpe was in attendance at the first community forum. He fully supports the merge, saying it will benefit the community as a whole.

“You’re taking the strengths of both hospitals… The NICU, you know, for preemies, is what Crouse is known for. They don’t need to do that at Upstate. They don’t need to have two stroke centers. They don’t need to have two heart centers. They don’t need all of that duplication. But they could take the best ones from each one and then grow it, and make it even better,” Stirpe said.

Stirpe says that if the merger doesn’t happen, the state would have to spend $100 million to update Upstate’s outdated emergency room. Crouse meanwhile just built a new emergency department that includes urgent care, which would help supply more resources to both hospitals.

The next community forum will be held at the Southwest Community Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 18th.

Isabel Flores is a graduate student studying Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. School of Public Communications, expected to graduate in May of 2023. As a multimedia reporter, she helps to present as well as produce audio and digital content for WAER. In her free time, Isabel enjoys working out and listening to all genres of music.